What are direct payments?
Direct payments help meet the needs of children and young people with disabilities and their families. It is an alternative to council arranged help. Parents or carers of children who are disabled can have a direct payment to buy their own help or support. Young people over 16 can also have direct payments. We pay direct payments to the parent/carer or to the young person if they are over 16.
The amount received will depend on the assessed needs. These will be different from person to person. Direct payments are not like benefits.
Direct payments give you more flexibility, choice and control. You can choose to have a small direct payment for part of the care or support. The council will the sort out the rest.
Direct payments do not affect any other benefits you may get.
Managing your direct payment
You can get support to manage your direct payment if you:
- can't manage on your own
- would prefer not to have to manage them
People who can look after it for you include a:
- parent or carer
If you need help, contact your Family Worker or Social Worker.
Who can have one?
A child or young person can have their needs assessed by Children's Services to see if they are eligible. If we feel you need support to meet your social care needs we must offer direct payments. There are some exceptions to this which we will be able to explain to you.
How to get one?
If you're interested, your Family Worker or Social Worker will make a referral to the Direct Payments Support Organisation. A direct payment advisor will then visit you to explain how things will work.
You must be able to give consent to get a direct payment.
I'm already getting support from a council arranged service
You can change to direct payments if you're already getting support arranged by the Children who are Disabled Service. If you're interested, speak to your Family Worker or Social Worker.
What can I use direct payments for?
You can use them for any support that Children's Services agree you need to meet the assessed needs of the child or young person.
The family can choose how to use the money, but the council will want to know you're using the money for its purpose. This means you will need to:
- keep record of your spending
- be able to account for your spending e.g. receipts
- sign a contract with the council which informs you of your responsibilities
Employing someone to help
In most cases you will become the employer. As an employer, you will have specific responsibilities. Find out about your role as an employer.
Who can I hire?
You can hire any provider that you think can meet your child's needs. This could include a:
- registered childminder
- relative. You can hire a relative, but not if they live in the same house as you*
*If you want to do this you will need to get permission.
You will not act as the employer if you are hiring someone who is self-employed or through an agency. Agencies will take on a lot of the responsibilities of an employer.
If you want to hire a PA and want advice, contact Dorset Advocacy or PRO Disability.
For further support speak to your Family Worker or Social Worker. You can also contact the Children's Advice and Duty Service:
Find more information on the NHS website.